Julie Coster – the Volunteer Behind the Pony Visits to Maddocks Gardens

Julie Coster and one of her miniature ponies visits with 101-year-old Bell Capes at Maddocks Gardens. Photo: Lisa Milligan/BRHS


When you’re talking to people that work or volunteer at BRHS, you hear this a lot:

“What I always wanted to do was help people.”

For Julie Coster, that urge has been with her since she was young, and motivated her during her work at BRHS’s aged care facility, Maddocks Garden, as a Personal Care Assistant a few years ago.

“I loved it,” Julie says. “I absolutely loved it.”

It was back then that Julie first remembers hearing about an aged care facility that would bring animals in to spend time with residents, and the positive effect it had.

For Julie, who grew up on a farm and has been around horses her whole life, the idea immediately made sense, and she began bringing in her miniature ponies to Maddocks Garden.

It was an immediate hit with residents, and Julie has continued make special trips to Maddocks Garden with her ponies Bullseye and Chippy ever since.

“People are always very happy to see them,” she says. “Sometimes it brings a tear to your eye, the way people react.”

Julie says that women, particularly, have a fondness for the gentle little ponies.

“When they’re patting them it sometimes unlocks a lot of memories, and ladies will often start talking about how they used to ride to school,” she says.

In addition to these remarkable volunteer visits for BRHS, Jan also organises riding sessions for people with disabilities at the Bairnsdale Pony Club.

May 20 – 26 is National Volunteers Week, and we’re taking a moment to recognise and celebrate the many volunteers, like Julie, that make invaluable contributions to the BRHS community.

If you’d like to know more about volunteering at BRHS, just visit www.brhs.com.au/volunteers-fundraising.